SXSW Housing Crunch a Boon for Crowdsourced Hosting…if It Works

Residents offering free and paid space have become a viable alternative for the packed conference.

SXSW Housing Crunch a Boon for Crowdsourced Hosting…if It Works
[Photo: Flickr user Danielle deLeon]

The annual South by Southwest conference has become a networking treasure drove for technology insiders, a proving ground for ambitious startups, and a place to reunite with old friends (who, ironically enough, often live in the same city). Unfortunately, official hotels were booked up weeks ago and according to, there are zero hotels available within a 25 mile radius of the conference center.


There were 33,200 registrants for last year’s interactive and film portion, and officials tell Fast Company that they expect a spike of 30-40% for Interactive this year. So, where does everyone stay? Crowdsourced housing websites, where residents offer up a free or paid space in their own home, have become an important alternative to procrastinators and last-minute conference crashers. (For SXSW attendees still looking for a place, we have a list of housing websites at the bottom of this post.) It’s also a make-or-break time for housing websites looking to prove they can come through in the clutch.

“SXSW is a big week for us,” Todd Hansen, co-founder of, a music social networking website that also facilitates free housing for incoming bands, tells Fast Company.

Tim Ballew, a first time BTTV host, tells us that he was so excited about the service, after discovering it through Facebook, that he agreed to be a host at SXSW as soon he moved into his new house. “My wife and I are social betterflies,” says Ballew. “The band that’s coming to stay with us, the Fierce Creatures, we enjoy their music; we listened to it once they contacted us.” Ballew and his wife are not band members or agents, just music enthusiasts looking for their own slice of the SXSW fun.

For those those in Austin looking to make a little cash, AirBnb allows residents to offer up their homes, beds or coaches, for a fee, just like a hotel. The housing service, whose user base has been growing exponentially, devotes an entire page to SXSW. As of Wednesday, there were than 738 properties offered, a number that has been growing by about 43 units a day for the past 7 days, according to CEO Brian Chesky.

To give readers a sense of just how packed this conference is going to be, one AirBnb host is offering tent space $20 a night (image below)


Finally, below is a list of free and paid websites offering housing (always use caution, usual creep alerts apply):








(again, use with caution)



Better than the Van

Social Media

-A twitter search for “SXSW housing” yielded a number of tweeters offering houses or splitting rooms

Last, but not least, check out the Facebook Marketplace.

Follow @fastcompany on Twitter. For full coverage of SXSW, see’s SXSW page.

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I am a writer and an educator. As a writer, I investigate how technology is shaping education, politics, Generation Y, social good, and the media industry